Do not resist an evil person . . .
— Matthew 5:38
In the last chapter I shared briefly, explaining that riding the wave of adversity means that you go with the flow, never opposing evil that’s coming against you. And how it was actually Jesus Himself who explained how we are to react when people tell you to do something, and that He made sure you knew it was He Who said it, “But I say to you . . .” “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:39-42).
I’d also confessed that I made sure never to stand close enough to anyone who’d once “slapped” me through their words or actions, and if forced to see them, I’d once made sure to stand back emotionally. There is no doubt that just being willing to stay close to those who’ve been unkind is difficult, but I’m sure we can all agree that to do more or give more than what this same person asked or demanded is nearly impossible to do. But that’s when all those “nothing is impossible” verses come in handy. Let’s read them:
“And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” (Matthew 19:26).
“Looking at them, Jesus said, ‘With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).
“For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
“But He said, ‘The things that are impossible with people are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
What makes everything possible is when God sent us His Son, to love us in the manner in which a woman could be made to feel truly loved—this is what makes all things possible for us to do. If we fall short of really having enough of His love, it will keep us from not even being able to consider venturing into the principle of riding the wave of adversity. And without any of His love, women will either foolishly fight adversity, only to be hurt even more deeply, or she will run from it.
What I also did my best to expound upon in the last chapter, was what changed me. Once again it was simply finding my abundant life—getting everything I needed directly from God like wisdom, and directly from the Lord, like the love that I desperately needed.
So can we finally all agree that giving is an incredibly powerful act, but it becomes even more powerful when it is demanded, stolen, or asked for unkindly? True, you may think it’s powerfully painful, but the truth is, once you have enough of His love to ponder this principle, you’ll begin to realize that adversity, as I understand it now, is actually the fuel we need, or like watering the seed that will bring about a bountiful harvest—the many promises we’ve been waiting for Him to give us. You may think it’s easy for me to say, but like you, I’ve lived through many difficulties in my life, but now I’m finally able to benefit from them.
My many years of ministry first began the same way Erin’s did when my husband also left me, and going through it, like many of you, He lead me to RMI and her teachings. The Lord then began to teach me many of His principles for living my life abundantly, getting me ready for what was up ahead in my life. Each principle, as I walked it out, changed my life significantly. Yet, I have to say that this brand new principle has to be one of the most powerful, which is also a principle that I never, ever, remember hearing from a pulpit or reading in a Christian book. And though Erin may have mentioned it somewhere in her books, I believe she did, I never remember grasping this truth before.
Now, since my living it, to me, this has to be the single most amazing principle to live by which, I promise, will change your life forever. And the reason I believe this, is because this very principle was the way that Jesus lived His life. A life surrounded by adversity, hatred, misunderstanding, betrayal, rejection, and every other evil that made up His very short life while here on earth.
The foundation of this principle is simply this—do not resist evil.
There is nothing so natural, so ingrained into our very being, than to do just the opposite. We can’t help but resist evil that’s being done to us. As a matter of fact, the Christian is taught from the very beginning of his Christian walk to resist and fight every evil and every evil person who tries to come against him or gets in his way. Some may cite these two verses to prove this to be true:
“Submit therefore to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12, KJV).
Though we do see this principle of resisting and wrestling in Scripture, nevertheless this is talking about resisting us from doing evil—not resisting evil being done to us. There is a vast difference between resisting the devil who is tempting you to do something evil, and also wrestling against principalities and the spiritual wickedness that tries to feed our flesh. So when I say to not resist evil, once again, it’s any evil being done TO us.
Needing His Spirit
One principle I know I did learn from Erin was the way we can easily measure if something is from the Lord or not. Somewhere she taught that if we can do something on our own, we’re working in the flesh. While the opposite is also true: if we need the help of the Holy Spirit, it means it’s clearly from Him.
May I also confess that fighting against evil used to come naturally to me as well (or running from it). Therefore, couldn’t we very well conclude that if something was coming “naturally” to me, then it’s probable that it was my own flesh that was fighting or running? Also true is that what changed was me knowing that to no longer feel the need to fight or flee was due to what His love did to change me.
Yet maybe even more interesting, an even more powerful and completely overlooked truth, is the fact that Jesus lived His life in order that we, especially we women, could follow His example and were actually “called” to do so.
“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps . . . and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him (God) who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23). And the reason I said “especially women” is because immediately following this section in First Peter 2 is when women, specifically, are told how to submit to a husband who is disobedient to the word or in rebellion. “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands, so that if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior” (1 Peter 3:1–2). Once again, if there is any relationship that would be difficult to “in the same way” suffer, not revile in return even though suffering, and not uttering threats (of leaving or in today’s world, calling the police), it is in the relationship with a husband who we trusted to love us, right? And let me say this too, once you’re able to do it in the husband/wife relationship, as long as you remain as close to Him and continue doing the same thing in all your other relationships and situations, it actually feels like a “piece of cake” or “walk in the park.” Oh, but wait, a thought just flew across my mind.
Frantic and Desperate
There are countless women today, and the numbers are growing, who are more than willing to suffer like this, giving more, turning the other cheek again and again and again. But sadly their motivation is entirely different than what I’m talking about here in this chapter. The horribly damaged woman of today puts herself in a whirlwind of pain, giving over and over and over, more than is asked, hoping that by doing so she will gain the love she is frantic and desperate for! Some dear women are so used to living this way that she seems to be drawn to this same sort of man, again and again and again.
You may not care enough to stop this cycle for your own sake, but will you stop to ponder long enough to stop this vicious cycle for the sake of your daughter, or your sister, or your niece or coworker, aunt or cousin? Until we are willing and brave enough to break free and find the Love that can move the highest mountains of pain and hurt and humiliation and emotional scars, we have no hope to offer anyone. Please don’t keep reading this chapter until you first stop to really grasp how important it is for you to learn to live this way. And then being willing to offer this hope, by sharing your own failures and hurts, so when the next woman in pain and fear who is frantic for love comes along, she then learns the truth. Help her to finally learn the depths of His love for her and what that would mean to her life.
Willingly Taken to the Cleaners
Now for an example of how He was helping me grasp this principle by sharing my own personal experience about what happened from the onset of the church-wide announcement from my ex-husband when he told everyone from the pulpit that he was divorcing me. Without really understanding this principle at the time, the Lord led me to not resist evil, not to defend myself when dozens of concerned or outraged members demanded I explain myself. Whether it was my ex-husband stating his demands for the divorce or the insults and accusation of church members, some having been close friends, due to His love alone—I instead was able to enthusiastically agree with what was said, using His example of not opening my mouth, like my Husband who “kept entrusting Himself to Him (God) who judges righteously.”
Many of the details of what He brought me through are in the Facing Divorce book that RMI offers as one of their many free resources, so I won’t go into details. (If you missed reading this book, please go to their website listed at the back of this book.) My point is that all throughout those early days in the very beginning of me finding the abundant life, He was leading me to walk out the principle of not resisting evil. Again, beginning with my ex-husband telling me privately, then telling my children, and then going as far as to announce it on Sunday, the day he turned in his resignation.
Yet, I’m not alone in being taken through adversity—yes, it’s how the Lord not only taught just me, but also Erin, who was willing to share all the many principles that we each found (and are continuing to find) in the RMI resources. And if you’ve been in her resources as long as I have, you’ll see there is one common golden thread that ties them all together! How all joy happens through our intimacy with Him and seeking the Lord to help us through each of our difficult situations. This is the only way we too will learn principles that will dramatically change each of our lives and help change the lives of others! Hence this principle can’t be accomplished by merely reading about it, but by walking through it, after experiencing His love to this degree.
In my own life, from the moment that I first heard my husband announce that he was divorcing me, I found that it didn’t take too much on my part to not resist evil that was coming against me. Then as the year wore on, it seemed to get easier and easier. Over the years, I’ve surmised that it must be that previous year (my hardest year ever) when it started. That year served to kill whatever flesh I had left—or so it seemed. Then with my flesh dead, I was able to absorb even more of His love. I also discovered that my flesh is clearly attached directly into the depths of my heart where my children and their well-being are concerned. I know that all of you who are mothers can easily identify when I say that when it comes to our children, there seems to be something built in that instinctively causes us to fight for them.
Yet, even then, God has a way of aligning our hearts with His when He reminds us what it took for us to know and experience Him—it was in the midst of adversity wasn’t it? So for me, the most important thing in my life (next to my intimacy with my Beloved Lord) is to see each of my children walking a powerful and intimate relationship with the Lord themselves. Which means that they too will need to walk a life filled with adversity in order to experience Him. Yes, like Erin, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in Truth” (3 John 1:4).
So if I am going to let adversity strike not just me, but my children, without my being tempted to step in between them or even cushioning the blow done to them, then I must make sure to give them and teach them the principles and be the example for them to see how. To help my children through, just as I do for women I meet in my church or in my ministering, I need to know, live and share this principle. Though I know I must be exaggerating, but often it feels as if there is at least one new attack each week coming at my children, pounding away at the very foundation of their lives, which for children is the area of safety. Children (and women) need to know that they are safe and that no harm is going to come against them to cause them pain. This is the security that children need to grow, and women need in order to flourish.
We’ve each heard about the effects on many television talk shows when they delve into how things that happen in a child’s past are sure to stunt or inhibit the natural maturity process and scar them for life. We are told how these children are left “emotionally retarded” and are “scarred” adults who are full of problems and struggles that find their way into every facet of their adult lives. Some of us are these adults. So how can we possibly help our children, or help ourselves as wounded adults, when it seems that the entire world is just one giant adversity coming against us with no relief?
By believing what He told us, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus was able to overcome the world, I believe, through this one principle that is never taught, much less walked out by today’s Christian. It is what He taught us from the beginning of His ministry:
Once again, give, and listen when He says, “I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matthew 5:38–40).
The very first portion states it clearly, read it again—do not resist.
Let’s think about this for a moment. What if Jesus had resisted His death on the cross, where would we be? Remember how Peter instinctively resisted (by cutting off the guard’s ear) and was rebuked by Jesus (who healed the man’s ear). Peter also lied. He then ran and hid (much like many of us do) when adversity came against him, even though he was an eye-witness to Jesus and His example of not resisting evil. Yet, Jesus knew that to resist is natural; therefore, He explained up front how He was going to live (by not resisting) and then showed the ultimate proof of the power of this principle by riding the wave of adversity all the way to the cross.
Due to Him wanting more for me, I have been called to learn, live and teach this principle. Only then could I now come to see in my own life, and also by taking a closer look at the life of Jesus, that instead of resisting, we can actually use the adversity as a smooth and easy ride that leads us right to the blessings, as well as giving us an elevated platform that we can use to give God the glory He deserves and stand tall to share His love with others!
One day while flying (somewhere), the Lord showed me an analogy of this principle of not resisting evil like a surfer who rides “a wave of adversity” to shore. This was easy for me to understand since I am a California girl and grew up body surfing. So since many of you may be landlocked, I will do my best to help you to understand this principle. This analogy has not only helped me, but it has helped my children understand and work this principle into their lives.
The Lord showed me a group of people who come to the ocean but they simply sit on the safe sand far from getting into the foreboding waves. I remember these as the tourists who came fully clothed and never really intending to swim. Then I saw another group who stood with their feet in the white waters that moved back and forth with the tide. I remembered as a little girl that women would often stand with their pant legs rolled up and talk as they enjoyed just enough, but not too much, of the ocean. When I would stand next to them, I found that if I just stood still the washing of the waves back and forth would often cause my feet to become buried until I couldn’t easily move. Interesting.
Next, He showed me the somewhat brave who would venture out a bit further into the waves. One wave after another would hit and often knock them down, since they were not up higher on the sand like the ladies, nor were they out far enough in the water where the waves would swell but not crash right on top of them. Though they thought they were safer closer to shore, rather than moving out deeper, they were, in fact, directly in the path of the weight of each wave, which resulted in them getting knocked down until they were worn out. Some of these braver souls would watch, as other swimmers would dive just beneath the waves seconds before crashing. Yet, even these better, braver swimmers would soon tire and have to return to the shore to rest and recover after diving through enough waves.
Finally, there were those eager souls who had learned the secret to these adverse waves. These swimmers would swim out to where it was deep, then turn to watch for the big waves, and rather than fighting against it, they would confidently then turn and paddle towards shore, choosing to work with the wave and use its fury to ride it to its destination. They were actually “riding the wave of adversity” and taking full advantage of its power, using its anger for their good.
The Lord didn’t stop His allegory there. I envisioned further down the coast where there was an area restricted, no swimmers allowed, where only the surfers with their surfboards were allowed to ride the largest waves —and they were not alone. Sitting up on the shore were the many spectators who gathered to watch or stand in awe. These, the Lord showed me, were those saints who used the waves of adversity as a platform to show God’s greatness. Instead of dreading the largest waves, they would actually look for them in great anticipation.
This is what the Lord wanted me to begin doing and what I want to encourage you to look forward to in your own life.
Platform to Show His Greatness
While traveling and speaking to women on an individual basis or before a large church, or anywhere in between, I found myself sharing several testimonies with them, though I hadn’t planned to. The larger the wave of adversity that I shared that I had ridden on, the greater their excitement when I shared it. The two waves of adversity that ultimately got the greatest ooohs and ahhhs, were the ones that many Christians had actually criticized and mocked me for—as being foolish or even being contrary to the word of God. One was when I paid for my ex-husband’s honeymoon and also when I spoke to my ex-husband (after his engagement was announced) and encouraged him to be good and patient with his new, soon-to-be wife. The women in Africa especially got excited about those two testimonies since they were quite clear (even the director of a huge worldwide ministry that spreads over all the nations of Africa), and told me that if it were their husband they wouldn’t pay for a honeymoon or encourage him to be nice to that other woman, but would instead find something big and “deadly” to beat him (and the other woman) with!
Yet, those waves of adversity are the very ones that forced these same Christians to have to think about their own lives and how they lived, and what impact it’s made on the lost souls of this world. What the world “witnesses” tells many different stories of His life and His love or speaks contrary to it. Nevertheless, it wasn’t the women (or men) in the church that I was most excited to share my “riding the wave of adversities” stories with. It was when I was blessed to share them with strangers, who then became interested in knowing “that God” whom they had never heard of. What the Lord was showing me was that these were the kind of waves that I need to begin watching for and not dreading, and like the surfers on their boards, I need to actually be looking for and be excited to ride!
Of course, to learn any new principle, it will always need the right circumstances to apply them; thankfully, these are coming regularly right now in my life and maybe in your life too. There is always a swell of a wave in the horizon, recently, in regard to the custody of my youngest children. The next one will reach me within 24 hours when my ex-husband arrives for an “unscheduled visit” that my children are sure will mean another adverse, possibly, huge wave.
Yet, custody is not the only continual waves that are hitting me, because back there in the ocean of adversities, I can clearly see a tsunami in regard to my finances. Like many surfers, when you see the big ones, you are both a tad scared while at the same time, a bit excited. Will I be able to hang on? Will I be able to maneuver along it gracefully knowing that so many are watching? Or, will I instead chicken out and paddle toward the swelling wave (taking matters into my own hands) and miss the platform to glorify God and shout about the Lord’s Love?
To gain courage, my thoughts always seem to rewind back to each of the waves that the Lord has brought me through thus far, which helps me to gain the courage that I will need to “go for it.” At the same time, being human, I fight the thoughts that try to creep into my mind with the many “what if” scenarios that envision me, such as “wiping out”—which is a surfer term that I don’t think I need to explain. However, just a quick walk through the marked promises in my Bible, or even a brief moment of intimacy with the Lord, and those visions are replaced with the trust that I am going to need. For me to give God the glory that He deserves once again, and to really show the Love that is there for each woman from her Husband who died to give her His abundant life here on earth, I need to always remember that this is all about Him and nothing at all about me.
The platform that He has built just for you and me is for the very purpose that we will inherit a blessing (and these are what I am gathering to leave as an inheritance for my children). These “waves of adversity” are created to get the attention of the unbeliever and make him want to know Jesus personally, while at the same time, used to motivate the common Christian to live a life hidden in and cultivated in deep intimacy with Him.
Now, Precious reader and dear friend, get excited, as you get ready to ride the next wave that is headed your way.